Nutrition for spinal pain
Do you suffer from chronic spinal pain, and could your diet be a contributing factor? It has been determined that certain food groups create inflammation in the body, often increasing pain; while others decrease inflammation, thereby reducing pain. If you are suffering from chronic pain, changing your diet may help.
Here are some tips for a pain-reducing, anti-inflammatory diet.
First, start with a plant-based diet including plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Brightly colored fruits and vegetables have all been shown to reduce inflammation in the spinal column, which helps to decrease back pain and stiffness. Dark green vegetables top the list, so try to incorporate plenty of kale, spinach and broccoli.
We also need healthy fats, including avocados, seeds (flax and chia), nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans and Brazil), and omega 3-rich cold-water fish (wild salmon, mackerel and sardines). Healthy oils – including coconut, olive and grapeseed – also fight inflammation.
Herbs and spices, including basil, cinnamon, ginger, rosemary, garlic, curcumin, onions, oregano and turmeric tend to be especially rich in anti-inflammatory agents, so season generously.
Other anti-pain foods include green tea, lean protein (chicken and turkey) and cacao.
Foods to avoid for pain relief include processed foods, fried foods, fast foods, saturated fat, soda, caffeine and alcohol. The worst offenders are refined white sugar and white flour products, including sugary drinks, baked goods, pasta, pastries and white bread. Chips, crackers and snacks made with hydrogenated oils also should be eliminated.
Some people avoid nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, eggplant, white potatoes and peppers) as part of an anti-inflammatory diet. To find out whether these vegetables contribute to inflammation in your body, don’t eat them for two weeks and see if your symptoms decrease.
Another way to keep pain at bay is to make sure you are getting enough nutrients for your bones and joints. Calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D, along with weight-bearing exercise, can keep bones and joints strong while preventing osteoporosis.
Finally, proper hydration is of paramount importance to decrease inflammation in your body. General rules include drinking half of your body weight in ounces of water per day and adding a pinch of pure sea salt (Celtic or Himalayan) to each glass to assist with absorption.
For best results, talk to your health care provider before making any changes to your diet.
With over 20 years of experience as a specialist in the upper cervical spine, Upper Cervical Chiropractor Dr. Erin Elster, D.C., has maintained a practice on Maui for the past four years. For more information, or to schedule an appointment, contact Dr. Elster in Kahului at (808) 866-6551 or www.erinelster.com.